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Hands-On Approach for Arts Festival

Dozens of Youth-Friendly Events Are Set for This Year's Imagination Celebration

March 23, 1998|ZAN DUBIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

COSTA MESA — "Hands-On Dance," a workshop created by the Anaheim Ballet that allows children to try on tutus, take a hip-hop class or make a sequined tiara, will be among the events at this year's Imagination Celebration youth arts festival, May 9 to 24, organizers announced today.

"It's a user-friendly dance afternoon," said Anaheim Ballet co-director Lawrence Rosenberg.

Troupe members will also teach abbreviated jazz, ballet and tap classes and perform solos from such classical chestnuts as "The Sleeping Beauty." A storyteller will help bring to life the ballet-fodder fairy tales.

The May 9 workshop at the Martin Recreation Center in Anaheim's La Palma Park is one of more than 55 watch-or-do dance, music and drama activities hosted by area arts and education organizations at sites throughout Orange County.

Other highlights include a Cartoon Character Workshop, May 14 at Cypress College; a performance by the Aman International Music and Dance Co., May 21 at Costa Mesa's Orange County Performing Arts Center; and a Pacific Symphony concert with student instrumentalists, May 23 at the Freedman Forum in Anaheim. The grand finale, also at the center, will be staged May 24 by the Fred Garbo Inflatable Theater Co., a troupe that uses brightly-colored silk shapes that glide, skitter and bounce Jell-O-like to music.

The goal of Imagination Celebration, a nationwide festival sponsored locally by the performing arts center and the county department of education, is to expose youths and their families to the transformative power of the arts.

"We've found that dance can do incredible things for young people," Rosenberg said. "It connects them with a sense of inner nobility, ballet in particular, as it was created in the courts of 17th-century France.

"By asking students to stand erect and hold their heads high," he continued, "we see their whole bearing change, there's a tangible difference in confidence and self-esteem. And there's always been a high correlation between achievement in ballet and academics. The discipline learned from one carries over to the discipline needed for the other."

Now in its 13th year, the festival will bring back a popular attraction to the lot adjacent to the center (at Town Center Drive and Avenue of the Arts): the giant, maze-like Meggopolis, a walk-in installation composed of plastic domes.

Most activities are free; the top ticket price for any event, such as the Aman and Inflatable Theatre Co. performances, is $8. All but in-school activities are open to the public.

Information: (714) 556-2122, Ext. 888.

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